Across the South West of England, once a bastion of UKIP power under ex-chairman Steve Crowther, the party is falling apart. Its Devon based headquarters, Lextrum house, is said to be staffed by a “skeleton crew” and barely able to function after many of the staff were let go with minimal notice last year.
Cornwall, a key part of UKIP South West, was a fundamental element of UKIP’s previous success and still serves as a microcosm of UKIP’s stability and credibility nationwide. Its complete and shambolic collapse in an area it saw as a stronghold just months ago is being mirrored across the entire country.
We told you about UKIP’s racism and antisemitism cover-up during the 2015 General Election, we also told you about the recruitment and “fast-tracking” of an intern with BNP links into the highest echelon of the party in Brussels, and we’ve followed the local party’s public implosion ever since.
It seems the membership have voted with their feet. Our sources with links to UKIP Cornwall tell us that three of the existing six branches are no longer able to operate due to members either walking away or refusing to renew their annual subscriptions. In fact, one of the branches only exists because of the standing order from a former chairman keeping it open.
UKIP Cornwall’s stalwarts, Bob Smith (Second from left) and Stuart Guppy (centre).
Apathy after the EU referendum is part of the reason for the membership numbers falling, something we have seen nationally within UKIP. Members and fringe supporters simply don’t see any reason to give up their time and money for cause that has no real need to exist.
Indeed, four of UKIP Cornwall’s six parliamentary candidates who stood in May 2015 have quit the party and are no longer involved. These prospective candidates, the public face of UKIP’s predicted “earthquake” in British politics, have fled what is increasingly a leaderless and directionless mess.
But the main reason we are told the membership numbers have collapsed in Cornwall is due to the negative attention brought to the local party in the exposed anti-Semitic cover up led by Stuart Guppy of St Ives fame. Indeed, several present and (now) ex-members we spoke to directly told us they were not prepared to work with the known extremist and his “cabal”.
Far from disciplining and dealing with Mr Guppy, the party has promoted him to County Vice Chairman and made him branch secretary of the failing Camborne and Redruth branch of the party. Camborne, which was UKIP’s number three target seat in 2015, and returned 4 local councillors in 2013 has “fallen apart”.
“Harry Blakeley, Chairman of the branch walked away after several poor showings in local elections,” a member tells us. “They had to bring in Guppy and the former Westminster candidate [who both live in a different constituency] to run it, it’s a bloody farce, nobody active is left. These branches exist on paper only!”
Blakeley, who was responsible for the recruitment and promotion of BNP affiliated Rosie Ward has ‘un-resigned’ and returned several times, so we expect to see him back again; health prevailing. After quitting his own council seat just weeks after the 2015 election, UKIP lost the by-election in a crushing defeat to the Liberal Democrats.
Rosie Ward, a known associate of the BNP’s Jack Buckby with Harry Blakeley.
Twenty-year-old Ward, who we have also covered before, has now changed her name, enrolled in a university course and is apparently no longer active in the party. It remains to be seen if she will return to the UKIP offices in the sam fashion as Annabelle Fuller (now Trixy Sanderson), who also attempted to rehabilitate her image.
It’s possible that UKIP Cornwall will completely collapse in 2017. By April, they will be required to post candidates in all 123 Cornish council seats, not to mention dozens of parish and town councils; a task which would now seem to be beyond their capability.
In 2016 there were seven local authority by-elections in Cornwall; UKIP failed to post a candidate in five of them. In the two elections they did stand there was a staggering swing of -17% in the first and -23% in the second compared to their 2013 result.
Of the six Cornwall councillors elected in 2013 five of them have already quit, and UKIP have failed miserably in every by-election.
Here’s a brief update on the six Cornish UKIP constituencies.
St Ives – Continues to run under the leadership of Stuart Guppy and his committee of around 15 active members. 2015 candidate, Graham Calderwood, remains active.
Camborne & Redruth – According to our sources the branch has “effectively collapsed” and is currently run by interim chairman and 2015 candidate, Bob Smith, with the assistance of Stuart Guppy. Neither of them live in the constituency.
Truro & Falmouth – 2015 candidate and all branch officers have left. Despite having three chairmen since the general election the constituency has no branch officers and exists on paper only. We’re told that “nobody” turned up to their last branch meeting.
North Cornwall – The only active social media of all the UKIP Cornwall constituencies. Two branch chairman in the past twelve months and a failure to post candidates in any of the local by-elections show the rot has set in. UKIP’s biggest local financial backer was previously a member and quit in disgust at the anti-Semitic cover up – taking his lucrative funding with him.
St Austell & Newquay – Dave Mathews the 2015 election candidate and “county coordinator” quit along with the branch chairman, Steve Kendal. They were replaced by new a chairman, Deborah Cowley, a close associate of MEP Ray Finch, who in turn also resigned after less than a year. Local party website and social media now inactive.
South East Cornwall – 2015 candidate Bradley Monk “didn’t renew” his membership. The branch appears to still be active and is run by UKIP’s sole local councillor, Steph McWilliams and UKIP stalwart, Nigel Challis.